HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs City Commission’s May 16, 2013 workshop was initially set to discuss amendments to the Commissioners’ Rules of Procedure. At the May 9, 2013 commission meeting, commissioners add further discussion on amendments to the 2012/2013 City budget, which had been proposed by City Manager Ed Booth during that meeting.

The Rules of Procedure, which were originally adopted on March 10, 2011, became an item for discussion due to complaints from citizens and commissioners that one commissioner used his blog to denigrate both the public and commissioners alike.

The controversy led to creation of Resolution 2013-C to address civility, which failed to pass after several discussions on the issue, despite the fact that much of the language was lifted from the City’s Employee Handbook and referred to employee civility.

Charges by Commissioner Bob Barnas that the resolution was “one-sided” and a violation of his right to free speech were addressed by City Attorney Scott Walker, who assured commissioners that the resolution did not limit free speech. Walked said that more and more cities are now crafting civility expectations into formal statements for their elected officials.

In not approving the resolution, commissioners seemed to agree that the appropriate place to address the issue of commissioners’ civility toward each other and toward the public might best be handled by considering amendments to the Commissioners’ Rules of Procedure instead of by resolution.

Barnas, the only commissioner who has a blog, will not be participating in the discussion. He said at the May 9 meeting he would be “out of town,” but would submit any questions or changes he’d like to see made to the budget, the second workshop item, in advance of leaving town.

The second item for workshop discussion is consideration of amendments to the current year’s fiscal budget. As City Manager Booth presented the overview of the proposed changes during first reading of Ordinance 2013-04 at the May 9 regular city commission meeting, commissioners will likely address specific questions that have arisen upon review of the proposed budget.

Questions regarding the appropriateness of making budget adjustments after funds have been earmarked for spending have been addressed by City Attorney Scott Walker during several recent meetings. Florida Statutes Section 166.241 addresses “Fiscal years, appropriations, budgets, and budget amendments” for municipal governments and excerpts of that Section are included below.

“(3)  The governing body of each municipality at any time within a fiscal year or within up to 60 days following the end of the fiscal year may amend a budget for that year as follows:

Ordinance 2013-04 is expected to be heard in second and final reading at the regular city commission meeting scheduled for June 13, 2013.

#     #     #

Email Cwalker@